Levittown, Pennsylvania

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Levittown is a census-designated place (CDP) in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States, within the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The population was 53,966 at the 2000 census. It is 40 feet (12 m) above sea level. Though not a municipality, it is commonly recognized as the largest suburb of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania [1] (while Upper Darby Township, Lower Merion Township, Bensalem Township, Abington Township and Bristol Township are municipalities larger in size in the three surrounding Pennsylvania counties.)

Contents

History

Levittown is a suburban community planned and built by Levitt & Sons. The majority of the land on which it is built was purchased in 1951. Levitt and Sons only built six models of house in Levittown, all single family dwellings with lawns: the Levittowner, the Rancher, the Jubilee, the Pennsylvanian, the Colonial and the Country Clubber with only modest exterior variations. The homes were moderately priced and required only a low down payment. Construction of Levittown began in February 1952, soon after completion of Levittown, New York, located on Long Island. Levittown, Pennsylvania was the second "Levittown" built by William J. Levitt, who is often credited as the creator of the modern American suburb. To speed up construction, Levitt and Sons perfected a 26 step rationalized building method that was essentially an assembly line type of homebuilding. The house remained stationary, while the construction workers moved from house to house. Each worker had one task such as pouring slabs, framing, installing electric sockets or installing washing machines. This highly regimented process enabled Levitt's workers to produce a finished house every 16 minutes. Construction of the homes commenced in 1952 and when completed in 1958, 17,311 homes were built.

What set Levittown apart from other developments at the time was that it was built as a complete community. Levitt & Sons designed neighborhoods with traffic-calming curvilinear roads, in which there were no four-way intersections. Each neighborhood had within its boundaries a site donated by Levitt & Sons for a public elementary school. Locations for churches and other public facilities were set aside on main thoroughfares such as the Levittown Parkway, likewise donated by the builder to religious groups and other organizations. Other amenities included Olympic-sized public pools, parks, "greenbelts," baseball fields and playgrounds, and a shopping center located in Tullytown Borough that was considered large and modern at the time of its construction (and in fact was the largest east of the Mississippi). The first set of 4 sample homes were put on display in a swatch of land near the future Levittown Shop-a-Rama and an estimated 30,000 people viewed them in that first weekend.[2]

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